ICAST opens today in Florida

The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST, begins with events today.

The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST, begins with events today and will open its doors to the sportfishing and marine trades at 9 a.m. Wednesday after a state-of-the-industry breakfast.

The convention will continue through Friday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. ICAST last year drew a record 15,000 people and exhibitors reported robust sales.

“We are in Orlando for the fourth year in a row, and we’ve seen 50 percent growth over those four years in attendance and revenue,” American Sportfishing Association vice president of industry relations Glenn Hughes said.

“Florida is the fishing capital of the world and it appears that the fishing-boat market continues to be the fastest-growing category” in terms of new-boat sales, he added.

Jay Baer, a venture capitalist, technology adviser and business strategist, will be the keynote speaker at the industry breakfast. Baer, president of Convince & Convert, also will conduct a seminar from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday called “Hug Your Haters,” which is the title of his book.

Presented by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, the seminar will reveal new proprietary research into the science of complaints. Baer will address why and where customers complain and how to turn customer service into a marketing advantage.

This is the second consecutive year that ICAST is working with the National Marine Manufacturers Association to host the Marine Accessories Pavilion. It will be the fifth year that ICAST has been held in conjunction with the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show, which is produced by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association.

The show sold out of space in March, with more than 570 ICAST exhibitors — more if the companies in the marine pavilion and the fly-fishing section of the show are counted.

The convention also will offer a full lineup of business development seminars.

There are several ICAST events today: On the Water demo day; the Bass & Birdies Classic, a golf and fishing tournament presented by Florida Sportsman; and the ICAST Cup — Industry Bass Fishing Tournament presented by FLM.

The popular New Product Showcase Preview Reception, sponsored by Fishing Tackle Retailer, will be held from 5-8 p.m. today.